Well, this has been a bit of an irregular blog - I do apologise for not keeping it more up to date. What's been going on with my 'renewed' set? Well, the hat is finished!
When I had got the hat lower edging done, I realised that it still looked a bit unfinished - so I folded the seam together where the band meets the main hat pieces and did the same blanket stitch edging along the other band edge. This was then finished in knot stitch to match the other edge. Adding a mirror edge balanced the band nicely and didn't affect the stretch.
The tassel was made by winding some of the thick and thin yarn around a card, tying off very tightly and knotting. The attachment is several strands of the plain yarn I used for the chain stitch row on the mittens (and on the edge of the waistcoat...more on this later in the week), sewn backwards and forwards and strengthened by blanket stitch into an outsize tailor's tack. This makes a tidy, strong attachment.
The finished hat is fun & a bit quirky - a bit much for me to wear myself, but I think it will look great on my gorgeous daughter Laura. It's a kind of combination between a Victorian nightcap and a headband! I left these photos a bit washed out so you could see the detail better.
Onwards to the finishing line!
Now, while I was working on the smaller items, I became aware that I was NOT going to have the 25% new fibre added if I didn't do something fancy with the waistcoat. Initially I was just going to finish it with a simple rib band around the sleeves and fron/neck opening, but as I worked I decided that the front band could well extend into a shawl collar added with short rows before the cast-off. So I have chain-stitched the edge for my starting stitches and will begin by picking up enough stitches to go right around the front/neck edges, rib a band including buttonholes and then work the collar before casting off. I aim to get all this done before the weekend, so it will be a bit of a pinch. Perhaps I shouldn't have taken that time off for a holiday in the middle of the project?
Now I have a complete set of mitts! And the hat is well on its way as well.As I continue on with changing a 'manky' sweater into a 3-piece fashion extravaganza, I will keep photographing, particularly the details as the work progresses.
The finished mitts!
The original jumper had a lace border around the bottom of the sleeves and garment. You can see this quite clearly in the photo.
Here are the finished mitts, with their 'hand-crafted' edging.
The hand length is a little shorter than I would like, but they do successfully cover my knuckles. I prefer mitts with short fingers but this cloth is not really suitable for this treatment - I would have had to insert gussets between each finger - very fiddly!
Blanket stitch plus knots
The finished edge - knotty but nice! This is the beginning of the hat edge.
You can see how the thick and thin yarn provides a great texture of bumps. It wasn't until I started working on this edge that I realised how regular my thick and thin yarn was - perhaps I need to work on a little bit of irregularity!
The first row is plain blanket stitch, the second is needle knots worked into each blanket stitch top loop.
These cuffs are terrific! They are nice and stretchy, textured without being rough and uncomfortable; I love this bumpy look too. Here you can clearly see the starting chain that I made to pick up the stitches. Magically, I managed to make both chains the same number of stitches without counting.
The cast-off cuff edge is very flexible and (I think) looks nicer than a cast-on, and I like the simple finish of the pickup chainstitch. If I was knitting then attaching the cuff, I'd stitch it to the mitt using surface backstitch through the loops of the final row.
Moving on to the hat next week...
Dyed and overlocked waistcoat piece
I'm just kicking myself that I didn't take a photo of the hideous mangled oatmeal jersey before I started this project - it was truly a sight to behold. My first thought when my daughter produced it was "What on earth can I make out of that?".
Further inspection proved that it was of good quality; had a nice feel if a bit lumpy, and was quite big, a major concern if I was going to shrink it a bit more in the dyebath.
Progress on the hat and mitts
Once I had it dyed (see previous post) I finished all the edges with overlocking (although the fabric was pretty comprehensively felted after the dyebath, I wanted to be sure) and inserted some little gussets cut from scrap into the thumb area of the mittens to give a wider hand and better fit around the thumb (I did all this 'by eye' as I'm a bit of a risk taker!). I shortened the mitts because I found that I had made them much too long in the wrist and they were a bit floppy.
Having chosen some felted thick-and-thin yarn, plus a light navy/purple wool, mohair and alpaca yarn from my 'stash of the ages', I began to play about with various ideas, starting with the mittens. The first attempt at cuffs, made with the plain yarn, was hopelessly clumsy-looking so I undid that and used the thick-and-thin. You can see the edge of the starting row of chain stitch (in the plain yarn) that I made to begin the knitting. The more bulky yarn gives a pleasantly lumpy finish, which actually looks as if it's supposed to be like that! (It was - but it needs to be convincing). Then I started working on an edging strategy for the hand end of the mitt. this was crucial as it would be a keynote for the whole set.
I'm not particularly fond of blanket stitch, as it can look very "home made" and I wanted a nice-looking, hand-crafted finish (I hope you understand what I mean here). The thick-and thin yarn is a pain to stitch on the felted fabric with, but it gives an excellent edge with a lot of interest - it forms a wavy pattern which is very pleasant. I decided to add a little height to the edge by forming a row of needle knots on top of the blanket stitch. This looks great and is quite unusual. You can see this on the thumb edge of the mitt. The finished edges of the original jersey were in simple rolled stocking stitch, which needed to be stabilised before continuing (it kept rolling while I was trying to work on it), so I have simply slipstitched them in place with a cotton thread.
To start the hat, I sewed the (former) neckband onto the joined sleeve pieces with the overlocker. I had to trim the hat pieces a bit to get a nicer look to the shaping. Then I made a tassel by unpicking some of the thick-and-thin from a locker hooked sample I had made a few weeks ago - that was a bad idea! This was attached to the hat by stitching a few threads back and forth and then blanket stitching over the threads, forming a strong attachment which allows the bobble to flop roguishly.
To be continued...
By now you'll have heard about the Spring Challenge (I hope!) and if you've decided to have a go, which I really hope you will, you'll be wondering what to do - if you haven't already got something suitable to re-purpose.
Because I wouldn't ask you to do anything I wouldn't do myself, I'll be doing an upcycling project during the Spring Challenge.
I started with an old alpaca jersey my daughter found at the Sally's. It was a hideous mangled object, oatmeal in colour and repulsively distorted and felted from being machine washed. It had a lace pattern around the bottom, no ribbing except on the neckband and apart from that was a very simple set-in-sleeve shape.
So first up, I decided to dismantle it into the future components of a waistcoat, hat and mitts. This would make it easier to dye evenly, I hoped.
I decided that since I had some nice thick-and-thin yarn in Nightfall, I would dye the jersey navy.
I filled up my large dyepot, added dye, detergent and white vinegar and popped in the pre-wetted pieces. Unfortunately the post wasn't big enough! I was left with several pieces undyed, the big issue here being that it might be near-impossible to match the shade between pieces. Luckily I was going for full saturation so that made it possible to get a colour match eventually by simply adding more and more dye liquid to the pot in small increments. I hate over-saturating the dyepot because it means that I then have to dispose of dyestuff - usually the wool absorbs all the dye, leaving only mildly acidic water to dispose of.
The biggest bonus of the dye treatment was that it further felted the fabric into a dense, luxurious silky knit with a lovely surface sheen.
So that was day one - at the end I had several pieces of beautiful,densely felted navy alpaca knit fabric.
Kate is a semi-retired photographer and craft dyer who lives in Southland, New Zealand.